“Though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the cheela . . .”
I have eaten a great deal of Indian food in my time, but never in its native setting. Perhaps this is why I had never heard of cheela until recently. I don’t just write a food blog, I consume other people’s food blogs too! In addition to blogs from great chefs like David Chan’s Lucky Peach, there are some wonderful independent, home-cooks like Bhavna’s Kitchen – a YouTube channel that serves up quasi-nutritional food for thought. Gentle Readers, you probably already know that I can be a little on the unorthodox side when it comes to nutrition. Neverthless, Bhavna hit close to home this week and I have adapted her recipe to my tastes.
Bhavna likes her pancakes extra crispy and so fries them in a good deal of oil. I prefer mine more like crepes or English-style pancakes, so I use a non-stick pan and as little oil as I can get away with. Like any other pancakes, be prepared to throw the first couple of attempts away (or do like me and sneak-eat them when you think that no one is watching.)
The method is easy. Add the dry ingredients and then the wet ingredients. Allow the semolina grains to swell and adjust the consistency of the batter to your preference. Cook. Voila!
Not convinced? Well, we have a photo-intensive show-and-tell with photographs by Paulette Lassiter. I think that you will appreciate the improvement in quality!
1.5 C Semolina
.5 C Chick Pea Flour
.5 t Corriander
.5 t Cumin
.25 t Turmeric
Salt to taste
.5 C Natural Plain Yogurt
2 T EVOO
1 T Ginger Paste
1 T Chopped Chiles
H2O as needed
Onion, Bell Pepper, Garlic & Spinach
Add the Semolina and Chick Pea Flour in a large mixing bowl.
Add the Corriander, Cumin, Tumeric and Salt – and mix to blend well.
Add the rest of the wet ingredients.
In addition to a couple of tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I can’t tell you how long I scratched my head each time that I saw “EVOO” in a recipe!) you should now add just enough cold water to make a smooth paste. Then set this batter aside for as long as you need, but for no less than thirty minutes. This allows the grains of flour to swell. If you leave the batter past a day or so, you will see the batter begin to ferment and impart a sour flavor. This is the same taste as the sour in sourdough bread. Each to their taste.
If you ae going to add additional ingredients to your pancakes, now would be a good time to do it. In addition to saving time, it will allow the flavors to meld and – if there is any liquid given off by your added ingredients – you will have plenty of time to adjust after it has rested and relaxed.
When it comes to cooking your pancakes, think “CREPES.” You should now add more cold water until you have a thinner batter from which you can make your pancakes.
Pour a little oil into you pan or skillet and then wipe it back out again with a paper towel. That’s all you need. The hardest part of this process is finding the optimum (medium) flame to give your pan a consistant heat. Karl is a big advocate of cast-iron cookware and I suspect that they may be perfect for the job. I have a couple of trusty non-stick pans that I use, but you would probably want to use the same pan that you use for omelets.
Always wipe out you pan with an oily paper towel between pancakes.
Serve with your favorite daal or saucy curry.